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The Sexual Exploitation Research Programme

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Sexual Exploitation Research Programme (SERP) 

The Sexual Exploitation Research Programme (SERP) was established in 2017 by Emeritus Associate Professor Ursula Barry in the School of Social Policy, Social Work and Social Justice at University College Dublin. SERP is now led by Associate Professor Dr Marie Keenan since Autumn 2020.

SERP conducts independent feminist research on all forms of commercial sexual exploitation that creates useful knowledge for law and policy makers, practitioners, survivors, supporters and activists.

SERP aims to strengthen the evidence base on current and emerging issues of sexual exploitation in Ireland, and beyond. Our work is designed to enhance understanding of the commercial sex trade, its impact on women and girls who are sexually exploited, on communities and on society at large.

In addition to strong links with international partners and allies, SERP also works collaboratively with support services for victims and survivors of prostitution and sex trafficking on the ground, seeking to bridge the gap between academia and frontline practice in generating new knowledge, insights and solutions on these issues.

SERP also provides learning opportunities, training, evaluation and bespoke consultancy services on the theme of commercial sexual exploitation and related issues. We are always seeking new ways to communicate and share our work and its findings and implications.

SERP is led by Associate Professor, Dr Marie Keenan who is Principal Investigator for the programme of research and chairs the Advisory Committee. She has overall responsibility for the management and financial accountability of the research projects, with the support of Dr Maureen Lyons (Research Manager)

The team includes Dr Monica O’Connor, Ruth Breslin (Lead Researchers) and Dr Mary Canning. Between them, Dr Keenan, Dr O'Connor and Ms Breslin have decades of experience researching and publishing on issues of commercial sexual exploitation and violence against women and girls more broadly.  

The work of SERP is guided by an Advisory Committee comprising academics, frontline practitioners and other experts in the field.  Current members include Emeritus Associate Professor Ursula Barry, UCD, Dr Paul D’Alton, UCD, Salome Mbugwa, AkiDwA, Dr Sarah Morton, UCD, Dr Denise O’Brien, UCD and Dr Nusha Yonkova, the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission (IHREC).

SERP is underpinned by the principles of gender equality, social justice and human rights. The team is committed to rigorous, ethical, collaborative and participatory research practice.

For enquiries about SERP’s work please contact: ruth.breslin@ucd.ie

The Sexual Exploitation Research Programme (SERP)

Office B207, UCD Geary Institute for Public Policy

School of Social Policy, Social Work and Social Justice

University College Dublin


Dublin 4

Contact the UCD School of Social Policy, Social Work and Social Justice

Hanna Sheehy-Skeffington Building, University College Dublin, Belfield, Dublin 4, Ireland.
T: +353 1 716 8198 | E: sp-sw-sj@ucd.ie | Location Map